Living with Lymphoedema

Lymphoedema is a medical condition characterised by the accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the tissues, causing swelling in the affected areas. Although it often occurs in the arms and legs, lymphoedema can affect any part of the body. Living with lymphoedema can be challenging, but there are practical tips for managing it in daily life. This blog will explore some of the most effective ways to cope with lymphoedema symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Tip 1: Exercise Regularly

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce lymphoedema symptoms. Lymph is not pumped by the heart, it is pumped by the movement of our muscles! Additionally, exercise helps in improving flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance. Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, and Pilates are ideal for people with lymphoedema. Some of the best results we see come from water exercise, whether that’s swimming, deep water running or just walking in water, your lymph will love it!

Tip 2: Wear Your Compression Garments

They aren’t always people’s favourite BUT compression garments help in reducing fluid buildup in the affected areas AND prevent further swelling. They work by applying graduated pressure to the swollen areas, preventing the buildup of lymphatic fluid. There are different types of compression garments, including day or night. The choice of compression garment depends on the severity, location of swelling and other personal factors. If your current garment isn’t working for you, reach out, there are lots of options to explore.

Tip 3: Watch Your Diet + Hydrate

There are lots of differing opinions around diet and it’s not something I want to delve into here but what I will say is that being overweight is one of the BIGGEST risk factors for lymphoedema, so a healthy diet and weight range is vitally important. Don’t let your hydration slip either. Being dehydrated can actually worsen fluid retention, so keep your water intake up! Try popping in some fresh lemon to help keep you hydrated.

Tip 4: Practice Good Skin Care

Skin care is crucial for people with lymphoedema because the condition can cause skin changes, irritation and makes you susceptible to infections. To maintain good skin health, you should keep their skin clean and moisturised. You can avoid using harsh soaps, lotions, and skincare products that can irritate the skin. Wearing gloves while doing household chores and gardening can help prevent injuries that can lead to skin infections and be mindful around pets who might like to scratch.

Tip 5: Keep Your Cool

Quite often when googling information on the lymphatic system you might see saunas recommended as a beneficial treatment. While this might be good for someone who has a functioning lymphatic system, it is NOT recommended for those with lymphoedema. Our bodies produce more fluid in the heat, and if you’re not draining it properly, it is going to accumulate more in your tissues. So don’t feel guilty for running the A/C and try to do your exercise either early or late when it’s not so hot.

Tip 6: Manage Stress

Stress can aggravate and exacerbate lymphoedema symptoms. Therefore, it’s important to manage stress effectively. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help relieve stress and anxiety. Engaging in enjoyable activities such as hobbies, socializing, and spending time with family and friends can also help reduce stress levels. It’s important to prioritise your mental wellbeing. Try starting and finishing your day with a few minutes of diaphragmatic breathing, not only will this support lymph drainage, it will help you relax.

Tip 7: Seek Support

Living with lymphoedema can be emotionally challenging. Therefore, seeking support from family, friends, and support groups can help ease the burden. Support groups or family and friends may provide a safe space for people with lymphoedema to share experiences, receive emotional support, and learn coping skills. Additionally, your healthcare professionals such as lymphoedema specialists (hello, Recover Wellbeing!) can provide valuable information and advice on managing the condition. I hope these tips are helpful and get you thinking about your daily wellbeing. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you want to read more about lymphoedema and the current treatment options read our blog – What is Lymphoedema and What Can I Do About It?

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